USC Women Advance On 67-64 Win Over UCSB
March 17, 2011
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team tightened up its defense and finally regrouped late in the game for a comeback to win its WNIT First Round game over visiting UC Santa Barbara 67-64 on Thursday night at the Galen Center. The Trojans got into an 11-point hole in the second half before climbing out of it and taking the lead for good in the final 6:20 of action. The victory improves USC to 20-12 overall and puts the Trojans on a path to the WNIT Second Round for a 2 p.m. game at Nevada on Sunday (March 20) in Reno.
UCSB went 5-for-5 from the floor in the last 2:45 of the second half to finish up the half shooting 50 percent. Ashley Corral's back-to-back threes for the Trojans helped USC keep it a four-point game at the break, as the Gauchos led 38-34. UCSB's shooting would dip in the second half, however, making room for a comeback push by the Trojans. Up by three with 2:15 to go, the USC defense caused enough trouble for the Gauchos to keep that lead intact en route to the win.
USC finished the game shooting 37 percent from the floor to trail UCSB's 41 percent. The Gauchos also led on the boards 41-35, but USC took care of the ball when it mattered and committed only five turnovers in the game to 11 by the Gauchos. UCSB's Emilie Johnson led all with 17 points, while Mekia Valentine pulled in a game-high 17 rebounds. But USC had four players hit double figures, led by Ashley Corral's 15 points on a 4-for-4 outing from 3-point land. Briana Gilbreath and Jacki Gemelos each had 13 for USC, with Cassie Harberts adding 11.
A three from Ashley Corral got the Trojans up by six as the teams crossed the 10-minute mark of the first half, but UCSB made a 7-0 run to take back the lead with 5:50 on the clock. The Gauchos would move ahead by six on a 7-0 run a few minutes later, leading 32-26 with 2:15 to go. UCSB stay hot-handed down the stretch, finishing the half shooting 50 percent from the field as USC managed two more three from Corral to keep within reach, trailing 38-34 at the break.
That hole deepened to 10 points in the first five minutes of the second half when the Gauchos set off on an 8-0 run. Only free throws fell for the Trojans in that first five minutes, until Cassie Harberts slipped in a score in the paint with 14:40 on the clock to cut an 11-point UCSB lead to nine, with USC down 49-40. Corral's fourth 3-pointer was followed by a nice finish from Briana Gilbreath off a hustle play and feed from Christina Marinacci, and Gilbreath converted the three-point play to cut the lead to four at 50-46 with 12 minutes to go. A take by Corral led to another USC three-point play for the tie, and Gilbreath followed that with a steal and a fast break layup for USC's first lead since 4:35 to go. The lead lasted for no more than 30 seconds as UCSB's Nicole Nesbit sank a three, but the Women of Troy would regroup. After UCSB tied it up at 60-60 with 6:35 on the clock, the Trojans got ahead with two perfect trips to the line from Gilbreath and Gemelos. A bucket from Marinacci answered one from the Gauchos for a 66-62 USC advantage with 5:15 to go, and both teams would manage only free throws in the next three minutes as USC tightened its grip on a 67-64 lead with 2:15 remaining to lock down the win.